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Former Beaver Falls coach sentenced for his role in drug ring

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 2:09 p.m.

A former Beaver County high school coach who dedicated much of his time to help kids deserves leniency for his drug dealing convictions, though not much, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch sentenced Carlos “Los” Cleckley, 36, of Beaver Falls to 5 years, 10 months in prison and five years of probation.

Cleckley pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to distribute 5 to 15 kilograms of cocaine and to selling 28 grams of crack.

Cleckley on Thursday again admitted his guilt and apologized.

“I just humbly hope I can move forward — take this situation and try to better myself,” the former Beaver Falls High School coach said.

His lawyer, J. Kerrington Lewis, argued that Bloch should give Cleckley a shorter sentence because of his work with kids, his limited criminal history and the small amount of money he made from participating in the Texas-to-Western Pennsylvania cocaine ring.

“Most of the money he got from his criminal conduct he gave to his family and others in need,” Lewis said.

Bloch said Cleckley's financial gain, a prior conviction for drunken-driving and most of the other factors Lewis mentioned were factored into the federal sentencing guidelines that recommend a prison sentence of 5 years, 10 months to 6 years, 10 months.

His work with children warranted a lesser sentence, but Bloch noted: “While his work with children is admirable, the fact that he sold cocaine while working with them is not.”

The school district removed Cleckley as coach and banned him from school property when police told school officials about his arrest.

The drug ring was the primary supplier of cocaine for Beaver County from 2009 until agents broke it up in 2011, prosecutors said. Its final shipment, which police intercepted, included 16 kilograms of cocaine and $669,000, prosecutors said.

Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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